Another Nail in the Coffin of the Space MMO?

Snipehunter's picture

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Looks like another one is biting the dust, even as I type this. Blackstar developer Spacetime Studios has just announced that they have been unable to find a publishing deal for Blackstar and are now forced to lay off half of the Blackstar team...

Why is that, do you suppose? Is the age of good sci-fi games just dead and gone? It seems to me that someone out there, be it the publishers or players, just doesn't want them. As a player, I find it hard to believe that it's the players that don't want these games, but I'm not going to claim any expertise here. The truth of the matter is, I've never worked on a space game... Unless you count the time I spent as a community rep and tester for Starcraft, which I do not.

That being said, I loved Wing Commander, Freespace, Privateer, Freelancer, Starlancer, Jumpgate, the X-wing series and even Elite. They were GREAT games that offered gameplay you can't really get any other way, so what happened to the interest in them?

More importantly, what does this mean for Jumpgate Evolution and Black Prophecy? Are they already doomed?

Both as a player and a designer, I sure hope not. It's a sad, sad day for the industry if there is no place for these types of games, any more.

- Snipehunter

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Sigoya's picture

I have faith...

...that Jumpgate Evolution will march on unaffected, with NetDevil's full control over their IP and with their JG Classic's experience to boot. Heck, if Codemasters ever get cold feet, ND should be able to leech off the upcoming Lego cash cow.

In other biting news, looks like Fury gave up. http://www.warcry.com/news/view/85437-Fury-Closing-Its-Doors

Snipehunter's picture

Oof!

That sucks. I never really played Fury, so I can't really comment on it, but it sucks to see another mmo go bye-bye, regardless. Sad

As for JGE. I'm hoping, for the sake of the friends I have working on it if nothing else, that it goes well, but I have to admit, for every cool thing I see about it... I see 2 things I don't. That last video I saw of gameplay was both simultaneously cool (JGE looks even better, now!) and disappointing (where'd the inertia go?!). Hopefully I'll get into the beta so I can judge for myself and maybe regain the passion I had for it last year, but right now... I gotta admit... I'm sort of on the fence, right now. Sad

Still, Ist and H are people I have nothing but mountains of respect for, so I still have hope.

Lego I won't comment on, except to say -- That's a seriously cool IP and a great idea the time of which has most certainly come.

- Snipehunter

Snipehunter's picture

I take it back.

Snipehunter wrote:
As for JGE. I'm hoping, for the sake of the friends I have working on it if nothing else, that it goes well, but I have to admit, for every cool thing I see about it... I see 2 things I don't. That last video I saw of gameplay was both simultaneously cool (JGE looks even better, now!) and disappointing (where'd the inertia go?!). Hopefully I'll get into the beta so I can judge for myself and maybe regain the passion I had for it last year, but right now... I gotta admit... I'm sort of on the fence, right now. Sad

I just saw the trailer over on Massively. You know... That's a good trailer. literally nothing but cool in it. I'm so stoked! Laughing out loud

- Snipehunter

Related, or unrelated, and

Related, or unrelated, and possibly entirely untrue?!
But since TR came up in the last few comments here: http://www.joystiq.com/2008/08/12/rumor-ncsoft-to-shutter-austin-studio-reassign-tabula-rasa-to/

Sigoya's picture

Very Related...

...and sadly expected. April Burba, Starr Long and a bunch of Austin employees have been exchanging recommendations in the last week or so over at LinkedIn. So this is something that is possibly coming, if not now, maybe in the near future.

Also related, Age of Conan is reportedly well under it's claimed "1 million sold units": http://wowriot.gameriot.com/blogs/Epidemic-Obesity/Age-of-Conan-Desperate-for-Subscribers/
Just more bad news for the MMO industry...

Snipehunter's picture

It's been a bad year

Yeah, sadly it's been a bad year for the industry (as a whole -- Midway Austin shut down one of its teams just this week, in fact). It's hard to say it's some larger trend or something though -- A lot of the companies having trouble this year have had visible and fairly well known problems, for awhile. Sadly, the troubles at NCSoft are something of a legend at this point. I mean, even while working on Auto Assault, we were hearing rumors about strained relations between Korea and Austin.

It sad, really - a ton of really great talent is caught up in this and a lot of potentially great projects are toast, now... and as near as I can tell, much of it was avoidable. Sad

To be fair though, it's not like I'm actually in the know. I just hear rumors, like the rest of the industry. The only people who can really answer the "what the hell is going on down in Austin?!" question are the folks at NC and Midway. Having been through a studio shut down or two in my career, I can't fault them for not talking about it. I don't think I would.

- Snipehunter

Sigoya's picture

In case anyone missed this

..21 positions were eliminated at NCsoft: http://www.warcry.com/news/view/85652-NCsoft-Austin-Eliminates-21-Positions

Mostly from Dungeon Runners console-port & production team, and the un-announced MMO team. Tabula Rasa retained it's flesh and skin intact.

Overall, the downturn of economy and Austin shedding more professionals is just bad. Seems like everyone is going west to Cali. Make space Smiling

Snipehunter's picture

Up to 6 companies this month...

In addition to Spacetime, NCSoft and Midway, I've now heard that Pandemic, High Moon Studios and Radical have laid off employees this month -- that's 6. And let's not forget Flagship sinking beneath the waves, as well. It's been a hell of a couple of months in this industry.

Man, am I glad the place I work is nice, safe and secure. Smiling

- Snipehunter